Interference between cues of the same outcome depends on the causal interpretation of the events.
Matute and Pineño (1998a) showed evidence of interference between elementally trained cues and suggested that this effect occurs when the interfering association is more strongly activated than the target association at the time of testing. The present experiments tested directly the role of the relative activation of the associations in the effect of interference between elementally trained cues. In three human experiments we manipulated the relative activation of the interfering and target associations in three different ways: (a) introducing a retention interval between training of the interfering association and the test trial (Experiment 1); (b) training the target and the interfering associations in a single phase, instead of training them in separate phases (Experiment 2); and (c) introducing, just before testing, a novel cue which, like the retention interval used in Experiment 1, had the purpose of separating the interfering trials from the test trial (Experiment 3). All three manipulations led to an enhancement of responding to the target association at testing, suggesting that they were effective in preventing the interfering association from being the most strongly activated one at the time of testing. Taken together, these results add further evidence on how the relative activation of associations modulates interference between elementally trained cues. 2000 Academic Press